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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. I still enjoy thoughtful film criticism, partly because I want to read what other folks have to say and also as a way to hone my analytic and writing skills. Like Justin, with Ebert's passing I don't have a favorite popular film critic, but I'll sift through RT's top critics and read what interests me. (I also just subscribed to Film Comment, figuring it was time to do so, instead of paging through it at the local bookshop every couple of months.) It's interesting to see the comments here about film ratings, too. If I had to guess, most of my reviews probably fall into the 3.5 to 4 star range, for a couple of reasons: 1) I'm very selective about what I view on the big screen and write about anymore (I like for my weekly written review to be about a film that I really give a damn about); and 2) like Ebert in his last several years, I'd rather err on the side of generosity and praise what is praiseworthy. And yeah, I think the "end of criticism" is a load of hoohah, just like the "end of ---" shtick almost always is.
  2. Six months out, I don't recall a lot of specifics, but I liked Frantz quite a bit when I saw it at TIFF last year.
  3. Fair enough, y'all. We've got a great community thing going on here that long ago earned my lasting trust and respect, so I'll participate in a (no pun intended) good faith manner.
  4. This is kind of what I was afraid of, and why I voted for "coming of age." I understand that the site and list is geared mostly to Christian readers and viewers, so no hard feelings on my part, but as a non-believer I'll be sitting this one out.
  5. My social phobia maybe gives me a way to connect to Chiron, but I find his desire to melt silently into the background wherever he goes entirely plausible and (ack, I hate this word) relatable.
  6. Aww, he must be so proud to be writing for a publication that opposed the Civil Rights Movement and supported apartheid.
  7. Agreed - Chris and Rod were delightful together.
  8. I've heard it's a good idea to skip the trailers on this one. Horror is not my favorite genre, not by far, but I thought this was excellent. It has some very good twists, and the social commentary is quite smart and cutting. I seem to like one horror film per year on average, so this will be it, I guess (last year, it was The Witch). Here's my review:
  9. I don't tout my work here as often as I used to, but this is the best new film I've seen in almost a year; a perfect meshing of screenwriting, visual, musical, editing, intellectual and emotional content. My full review:
  10. Thanks! I esteemed this movie (and Baldwin's writing) so highly that I went out and bought the screenplay yesterday, something I only do a couple of times a year.
  11. Yeah, I'm bummed out that there'll be a second season, since the first one ended perfectly. No doubt The Young Pope will offend purists, but I thought it managed a decent tightrope walk between faith and skepticism. Based on my recent read of God's Bankers, the behind the scenes view of the Vatican felt mostly plausible here. And The Young Pope possesses the beauty, jarring oddness, and emotional power that Sorrentino has captured in his two most recent films. In terms of performances, Jude Law delivers a superb performance that believably covers the full range of human emotion; and the supporting roles are managed excellently, too. This is great TV.
  12. Interesting point and question. It's been a while since I've read up on Zen Buddhism, so I'm digging deep into my far-from-perfect memory banks on this. Off the top of my head, I'm not convinced that Ozu's films draw all that heavily from Zen. On the other hand, his films exemplify the Japanese concept of mono no aware, a gentle sadness at the transience of all things. Since as I understand it, Buddhism idealizes lack of attachment, I'd consider this concept imperfectly Buddhist at best. I could be wrong, though. (Parenthetically, a couple of films depicting Buddhist ritual or artistry popped into my head. Late Spring - Ozu again - has a climactic scene occur at a Noh performance, the several hundred year old dramatic form heavily influenced by Zen. Daibyonin - a hard to track down film by Juzo Itami, of Tampopo fame - climaxes with a orchestrated performance of a Buddhist sutra. Stunning stuff.) Actually, I think Kurosawa's films draw more upon Zen. The Zen concept of satori, or sudden shocking enlightenment, shows up repeatedly, from his first film and famously including the 'happy birthday' scene in Ikiru. Zen and its ideals of the noble swordsman are all over Seven Samurai. In a sense, lots of Kurosawa's films are coming of age tales in a Buddhist-inflected culture, though the maturing folks are typically young adults, as in the young judo artist gaining enlightenment at the monastery in Sanshiro Sugata or the young doctor of Red Beard. And good call on Kim Ki-Duk's film; I'd forgotten all about it, since I haven't seen it in perhaps a decade. But yeah, that may be the best film example in answer to Jeffrey's original question.
  13. Having watched all of Kurosawa's films (most, thrice or more) and many Ozu films, I can only think of one that deals with this specific topic even peripherally. Rhapsody in August, a 1991 film by Kurosawa, has a poignant scene where a grandmother and her 4 grandkids participate in a Buddhist ceremony of remembrance for the dead of Nagasaki. My impression is that Ghibli films deal far more with Shinto ideas and imagery, rather than Buddhist, though Pom Poko in particular melds the two. Little to nothing about kids and Buddhism in that film, though.
  14. Oops! I scanned Park's film list at Rotten Tomatoes and missed the director/producer distinction. I should've checked at imdb instead.
  15. I guess this good old Tennessee boy just isn't sophisticated enough to appreciate the "meta-critique of the male gaze" in watching a couple of skinny nubile ladies scissoring. It looked an awful lot like soft core pornography with a thin ice crust of rationalization scattered on the top. I guess I just need to steer clear of films by Chan-wook Park for a while, since I pretty much hated Snowpiercer and Oldboy, but I was lured in by all of the praise his newest film has received (including Best Foreign Language Film from the critics' association I belong to). This is somewhat analogous to my recent reaction to Elle, which struck me as superficially feminist while turning out to be rather misogynistic, to the point of including a "she really wanted it" rape narrative.
  16. In my backstory reading, evidently the Inquisitor was an openly gay man, one of the few such leaders in the Tokugawa Era. Nonetheless, he struck me as more than a bit stereotyped as well.
  17. Naturally, as an atheist, I didn't view this devotionally as so many here have, but I still thought it was excellent storytelling, with Scorsese in top form, exulting in tossing out moral dilemma after dilemma. I won't link to my review, because I don't want to provoke or offend, but y'all know where to find it if so inclined. I wondered, as a Kurosawa-obsessed viewer, and knowing Scorsese's high esteem for him, did anyone else see a parallel between the use of Jesus' image in Silence and the Buddha's image in Ran? Both, after all, had much to say about the Divine's presence or absence in the midst of brutality and death.
  18. "Lapsed-Catholic bitter" versus semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman by a fellow who witnessed repeated physical abuse by an ecclesiastical authority figure in his younger years. The latter characterization seems more accurate to me. In actuality, I'd say Sing Street's lead character was remarkably resilient and un-bitter given the circumstances arrayed against him both at home and at school.
  19. In this interview, John Carney states that Brother Baxter was based on a real teacher at Synge Street: "There was a guy, Brother Byrne. I’m not even remotely scared of saying who he was because he was a vicious thug and I couldn’t care if he sues me. It was based on him. He was a guy I’d just see pummeling kids, just punching them in the face. It was brutal."
  20. Whew, talk about uncharitable (even nasty)! And based on my work with hundreds of addicts and being friends with a couple, too, the categories of tragedy and defensive indulgence are not mutually exclusive.
  21. What an excellent year at the movies! 30 films that could easily have made my Best of 2016 list, so it was a tougher winnowing process than usual. Here's my final result:
  22. Very interesting review, Evan. I really wanted to like (hell, even love) this film, but I came away underwhelmed.
  23. I'd be willing to contribute a couple of reviews to a book.
  24. Yeah, I saw the film at TIFF in September (a whole lotta sniffling went on all around me), then saw the trailer before Moana recently, and both my wife and I were fighting back tears.
  25. I expect it'll make my Top 5 this year.